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Preview Making / Pattern Testing

Ruth wears an orange, cable and lace shawl in the background. A translucent white square with rounded corners is the next layer. The black, bold text reads "Preview Making"

Image description: Ruth wears her Feelin' Foxy shawl as a cowl. Feelin' Foxy is an orange, cable-and-lace pattern. She wears an olive green top and stands in front of a dark blue background. Black text on top of a translucent white square with rounded corners reads: "preview making" in capital letters.

This post in intended to be reference materials for those who will preview-make my patterns. You're welcome to agree or disagree and to run your preview-makes or test-knits (crochets) as you like.

What is preview making?

Preview making is similar to what you may have heard called "test knitting/crocheting."

For my pattern previews, I post information about the pattern I would like preview-made. This post is made in my discord channel and is also sent out via email to a group of people who have indicated that they would like to preview-make my patterns and signed up to be on that list.

In the preview-call I post the following information:

  • The type of pattern
  • Craft used (knitting, crochet, Tunisian crochet, or a combination of the three)
  • Yarn and material requirements, just as they are in the pattern
  • Sizing and fit information, just as it is in the pattern
  • Skills needed for this project
  • Whether I am looking for makers already confident in the skills listed, or if it's beginner/learner-friendly.
  • Whether modifications are ok or not
  • What kind of feedback I'm looking for
  • When the pattern may be publicly shared

What stage is the pattern in when it's sent to preview makers?

In my pattern previews, I send makers a pattern that has already been worked through by a thorough and professional technical editor. That means I feel the pattern is at a quality and level that it is ready to be published. To the best of the abilities of myself and my editor, the pattern is error free.

Am I human? Yes. Are my editors human? Also yes. But there's a reason I have my patterns to this standard before sending them to preview makers:

Preview makers are not "free" tech editors.

If you've been in the world of pattern testing, or around the internet, you've probably heard some people say that pattern testing and technical editing are interchangeable - you should do one or the other. I strongly disagree.

A Technical Editor is an industry professional who has knowledge of the areas where they should be checking for errors. Most Tech Editors (myself included) work through a checklist of potential problem areas, work through a document multiple times, but do not ever make the pattern. Tech editors are responsible for finding errors, checking my math, correcting my grammar, etc.

Preview makers, on the other hand, I expect to behave like they just purchased the pattern and are behaving how they normally would when they make a project. In exchange for early and free access to the pattern, I ask for feedback on things like yarn usage, gauge matching, and if they struggled in any areas of making. I do also ask that they mostly follow the instructions, since I'm asking if my pattern makes sense as-written, not how they would modify it to the point where it can't be recognized.

Do you pay your preview makers?

No. There's a few reasons why:

  1. I test-knit/preview-knit for other designers. I feel that since I am putting effort out into the community to help others it's not unfair for me to ask for that help back when I need it.
  2. I don't have strict requirements for preview makers. I don't require a specific yarn to be used, I don't hold stringent deadlines, or penalize makers who aren't able to complete the project after all.
  3. Preview making is voluntary. When I volunteer to make a pattern for a designer it's usually for one of two reasons: I want to help them, or I love the pattern so much that I want early access to it and I'm willing to pay the price of giving feedback for that early access.

What are other reasons for preview making?

A big reason for preview making is for garments to be shown on a wide range of body shapes and sizes. As a midsize maker who does not have an hourglass figure, seeing a garment on a body shaped like mine can often make the difference between whether I'll purchase a pattern or not, or trust that a designer knows how to grade in a way that will fit my body. I want makers to be able to see themselves in my work.

I hope this helps for those of you who are considering preview making for me or other designers.

If you are unsure of a designer's expectations or requirements, asking is the best place to start.